19 May 2011

Don Fowler Memorial Lecture: The Myth of Narcissus

The 11th Don Fowler Memorial Lecture will be delivered on 19th May 2011 by Leah Tomkins. This lecture is a new departure for the series, but very much in the spirit of the honorand’s outlook: it will be the first in the series to be delivered by someone who is not a professional classicist. Leah studied with Don Fowler when she read Classics and Modern Languages at Jesus from 1983-87, and following a successful career in management consulting and organisational strategy (mainly with Accenture and the Cabinet Office) she returned to academia with a second degree and a PhD in Psychology from Birkbeck College, London. She specialises in organisational and work psychology, and has researched in particular the ways in which personhood and organisation interact.

Leah’s lecture will be on ‘The Myth of Narcissus: How Ovid can help with the problem of subjectivity’. Classics has been a productive source of approaches to psychological thinking, from Freud to the most recent (at root Aristotelian) focus on the psychology of happiness. While various psychological approaches (cognitive and psychoanalytic in particular) have been fruitfully applied to classical studies in past years, Leah’s examination of the myth of Narcissus applies ideas from classical thinking to phenomenological psychology (the examination of psychological meaning). Subjectivity is often conceived to be a problem for empirical human and social sciences, and was a matter that Don Fowler often raised in both practical and theoretical ways. It is therefore timely and appropriate that Leah should deliver this year’s lecture in Don’s memory.

The lecture will be delivered in the Stelios Ioannou Centre, 66 St Giles, at 5 pm, followed by drinks in the Centre at 6 pm. Those who wish to dine in Jesus with the speaker should contact Dr D’Angour (armand.dangour@jesus.ox.ac.uk): dinner will be three courses with wine, followed by coffee and dessert, and priced at £35.